“Clowny clown clown
Thinking back about those days
with the clown,
I get teary-eyed and really snide.
I think that deep down,
I hated that clown"
-Sung by Crispin Hellion Glover
(“Clowny clown clown”)
I stopped by the guardhouse and after bribing the “Senior Guard” with $100 (the prices get higher in this sort of place) I got a good copy of the surveillance tape of my talk with Simonson. Thankfully it had sound. This would be something to show the doctors. I also wanted to show it to Harry and compare our take-aways from the encounter.
Max and I were having an interesting movie talk. He had always told me I was his instructor in movies, for he had seen very few as a child and I had seen so many.
I have seen more films than anyone I know. I also pay more attention, which is a huge difference. I believe they can be great teachers, if you let them. Both the good ones and the bad, they are proverbs, or attempts at them.
A man who has seen “Viva Zapata” and “On the Waterfront” and “The Grapes of Wrath” and paid attention to them, is a wiser man. These are adventures in what it is to be human. I love action movies, but they aren’t meant to teach us anything. And yet they do, for, if the story is in anyway human, they give us a perspective we didn’t have when we came in.
Max and I were discussing a movie he had seen on TV the night before.
“I never watched movies like this before,” he admitted, “You have taught me to really pay attention.”
“You do it, I just told you how I do it.”
“Who would have thought I would come away from ‘Duck Soup’ feeling I had gone to school?” he smiled, “It’s funny, yeah, you can’t deny that of any Marx Brother’s movie, but this was a great anti-war movie.”
I was a bit smug, but I tried not to be.
“They lampooned Government and pompous people, sure, but the whole idea about going to war, pumping up public opinion. That song ‘This Country’s Going to War” almost made me mess myself.”
“It is a great movie,” I agreed.
“What do you think are the best anti-war movies?”
I thought about it for just a second, then, “There are so many good ones, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is right up there. Also “M.A.S.H” is on the list, but the TV show did a better job of making the case. ‘Platoon’ really speaks to the people who bought the war package and then learned the truth about it. Did you know that Oliver Stone, who directed what was basically an autobiography, came out of a screening of ‘The Sands of Iwo Jima’ and went straight to enlist? Movies can lure people to do things they should, and something’s that they later despair of. But, isn’t that true of all of us? We talk ourselves into doing things and later wonder if we spoke honestly to ourselves.”
At that second the discussion stopped.
Rifle shells riddled the front windshield. We ducked as far as a person sitting in a car can, and the car swerved.
The side windows shattered to more riddling by bullets.
We careened to the left, but Max recovered and got us going straight again. Instead of slowing, he hammered the gas pedal, and we flew out of that kill zone.
The back windshield took more shelling, but we got away fairly cleanly.
“Too many other easy spots for ambush coming up,” he said, “They could hit us at any of them.”
“Or they could wait for us at the first exit, knowing we would try to avoid getting caught up in another cross-fire.”
Max drew an excited breath, and then said, “You’re right. How many men do you think he can throw at us?”
“I wish I knew. The membership in the church was in the thousands when he was brought down,” I was tired and scared. This seemed never ending.
“Max, go the shortest route, just get us back.”
My first thought was to turn around and find a way to kill Simonson, but that would just make a martyr of him and might even give him more followers. More people who just lived to kill. Kill innocents. And their blood would be on my hands.
I had to think of a way to stop this now.
Right now I had no idea how to do it.
I turned around to feign sleep.
I didn’t want Max to see my fear, or my tears.
But we had to stop dealing with this as detectives.
We were being forced to go to war.
And unlike “Duck Soup,” there was nothing funny about it.
© C. Wayne Owens